According to South-East Asian football analyst Steve Darby, the Socceroos will be confronted by the most formidable Vietnamese football team lineup he had ever seen in the previous two decades, but also revealed that Vietnam will have a hard time passing through the World Cup 2022 qualifiers.
The upcoming rematch of the two teams
On January 27, Australia and Vietnam will face in the second Group B game that will take place in Melbourne, with the third-placer Aussies in desperate need of a victory. Prior to the upcoming match, both countries met in Hanoi back in September last year, with the Socceroos dominating the match with a 1-0 win.
Now they needed a rematch to keep up with the Group B top-ranked team of Saudi Arabia and second-placers Japan.
Darby was well-acquainted with the region, having been coaching the Vietnam national women’s football team for a very long time, as well as Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Laos and Australia’s teams.
The formidable Vietnam
He has been fascinated by the first 11 of the current Golden Star Warriors, although he also revealed that the team was not well-traveled for their away matches and their recent early retirement at the AFF Suzuki Cup semis has a huge impact.
According to Darby, he said “This is the most formidable Vietnam squad I have ever seen.”
“For 20 years, I have watched them closely. Before, they were a squad of talented athletes who depended on star players to shine.”
“They were well-managed, at their peak shape, and not overly dependent on the skills or star quality of an individual player, this is why I’m impressed by this group. Korean Coach Park definitely innovated this team and also the huge factor was that the coach was given freedom by their administrators.”
The team’s weaknesses
“One of the problems in South-East Asian football is that coaches are always getting interrupted by the administrators, the facilities are in poor condition and the organizers of major leagues are corrupt.”
“This team is already utilizing its own core strength. The only weakness that I’ve noticed is that they are not well-traveled.”
Back in 2018, Vietnam won the Suzuki Cup, however, in the current edition, they were swept away in the final four by Thailand. Darby assumed that this will impact their stand in the World Cup qualifiers.
“Vietnam’s media is very influential, the supporter’s view is dependent on the view of their media. They will find the defeat in the Suzuki Cup a disappointment and may affect the team’s performance in the World Cup.”
“For me, they should’ve sent a developmental team in the Suzuki Cup instead of the senior players as they are already exhausted from playing continuously.”
An expert’s opinion to the Aussies
Darby also voiced his opinion for the Australian football team, and he pointed out the criticism that coach Graham Arnold has been facing due to the recent loss of the team in the last three matches.
“Qualifying for Qatar is the most important thing right now and not about the managing style or ideology. The Socceroos were already a star-studded team, they don’t need to rely on the star quality of a single player to win. Also, we need to consider the logistical problem that the Aussies face during this pandemic.”
“The Aussies are in a difficult situation right now and must decide to use their tricks up their sleeves to be qualified. I think the goal must be to defeat Japan and Saudi Arabia first for them to be qualified to move forward in the Qatar games.”
Both Vietnam and Australia are two different teams in terms of background, however, both teams need to play on their core strengths for them to qualify for the World Cup. Darby’s insights shed a light on the lingering problems of both national squads.